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Australia: Shares mark 5th weekly gain amid rapid recovery hopes
[SYDNEY] Australian shares eased 1.6 per cent on Friday, though gained for the fifth straight week as hopes of a faster-than-expected economic recovery Down Under from coronavirus-induced disruptions outweighed worries of a deepened Sino-US rift.
The S&P/ASX 200 closed at 5,755.7 and endured its worst day in two weeks, as markets nervously awaited a response from the United States after China pushed ahead with a new national security law on Hong Kong.
Profit-taking also pulled stocks lower, according to Oanda analyst Jeffrey Halley, as dealers cashed in on solid gains booked earlier in the week.
That was still a minor blip for the index in an otherwise fruitful week during which it advanced 4.7 per cent, its best performance since the week ended April 10, and hit a two-and-a-half-month high.
Australian equities were given a shot in the arm on Thursday by the central bank's estimate that the economic downturn from the pandemic will likely be less severe than initially feared, with restrictions being lifted.
Financial stocks have been the biggest beneficiaries of the recovery rhetoric, with a sub-index enjoying its best week on record after gaining almost 11.1 per cent.
The Big Four lenders surged this week to their highest in more than two months, but eased between 2.1 per cent-5.7 per cent on Friday.
"While there are incrementally growing concerns about US-China tensions, these worries are being offset for the most part by the comfort of global monetary and fiscal support," said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp.
New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 rebounded from a drop in th previous session to rise 0.2 per cent to 10,882.41. The index gained for the second straight month.